Serving Beyond Yourself

You could consider this a follow-up to one of last week’s posts: Are You Most Loyal to Purpose or People?

I want to share another way of framing the mindset of being loyal to purpose ahead of people, especially for those who’d prefer to shift into greater loyalty to purpose.

Putting purpose first isn’t dehumanizing if you frame it a certain way – if your purpose actually involves serving people.

If, however, your purpose is mainly self-centered, like if it’s based on individual achievements that will be of little or no benefit to others, then I think you’re more likely to run into trouble with this approach.

I think one reason many people adopt a people-based loyalty ahead of a purpose-based approach is that they don’t give adequate thought to how a good purpose can really serve people at a deeper level.

Here’s the key difference as I see it. When your loyalty is to people first, it’s really towards specific people – a teeny tiny subset of humanity like your family, friends, or coworkers. This kind of loyalty is small potatoes. There isn’t much to serve there. This limited version of loyalty is mostly a form of attachment; it’s a clingy kind of loyalty.

When you give your loyalty to a bigger purpose that involves serving people in some way, you have more room to grow. You can stretch into serving more people, into serving people more deeply, or both.

When I began earnestly focusing on the seemingly simple purpose of pursuing personal growth and sharing what I learn for the benefit of others, I didn’t know it would lead to a website that 100 million people would eventually visit. I couldn’t foresee all the ripples that would be created from this pursuit and all the lives it would touch around the world. My experience was that by aligning with this purpose, life sent me a lot of help and support along the way.

If I had been loyal to people first, I would have expressed that loyalty through my existing friendships and network. I would have remained in the computer gaming industry. I would have stuck with my old high school and college buddies, even as our interests drifted apart. I would have left a lot of growth and self-expression untapped. And I think life would have largely ignored me.

Why should life invest energy in a dead end? If life wants growth and expansion, it stands to reason that life will invest where the growth and expansion are found. So if you aren’t aligned with growth, how can you expect much support from life?

I think that if I clung to people-based loyalty, I wouldn’t have developed the deeply trusting relationship I now have with life. That relationship grew from adopting the mindset that I’m here to serve the best interests of life. I see life’s interests as exploration, expansion, flourishing, intelligence, self-expression – and of course growth. I feel that by seeking to grow as an individual and encouraging other people to grow, I’m serving life’s greater purpose. I always felt that life had my back when I’ve been in tune with this purpose.

My purpose doesn’t feel like something I sat down one day and invented. It feels like something bigger that already existed, and I just saw how I could align myself with it.

I’m a part of life, and there’s a fractal relationship between my individual self and the entirety of life. I’m a piece of this larger whole with a similar purpose. I’m here to grow as an individual, and I’m also here to experience growth as a piece of a larger entity. That’s a very win-win relationship.

When I’m loyal to my purpose, I’m loyal to life, so by extension I’m also loyal to the parts of people that align with life.

I’m not loyal to people as individuals. I’m loyal to people as parts of life expressing itself. Some people are well-aligned with life’s purpose while others behave more like cancer cells, creating a conflict between their individual selves and the health of the whole. Because I’m loyal to life, I’m most loyal to the people who behave in alignment with life – especially people who are here to grow.

So there is a form of loyalty to people embedded within loyalty to a purpose, assuming your purpose is aligned with life’s purpose. It’s not loyalty to people as individuals though – not to people’s petty egos and identities. It’s loyalty to people as expressions of life’s desire to explore, to grow, and to reveal its intelligence in a variety of ways.

Instead of thinking of yourself as being loyal to purpose or people, you can frame it like this: Are you loyal to people’s small selves or big selves? Are you loyal to people or to PEOPLE?

Being loyal to a good purpose means that you’re loyal to PEOPLE but not necessarily to people. You support people’s big selves, so you’re not as concerned about what their individual egos think of you.

What I like about this mindset is that it’s very stable and centering. Even while going through tumultuous times, you can still feel grounded and secure because life is always present, and its invitation to align with its purpose is always available to you.

When you’re loyal to life, you get growth, growth, and more growth. You get a stable relationship based on trust. And you get a fascinating life to experience and appreciate. That’s more than individual people can realistically offer, but it aligns well with what PEOPLE can offer.